MEEKER I Searching for the perfect quote to describe a teacher of 40 years and a bus driver of 35 years it becomes obvious that great words are said by minds who had exceptional influences along the way. Those words are the result of educators who “affect eternity: they can never tell where their influence stops.” (Henry Adams)
Dean and Artie Parr have had a positive influence on many of Meeker’s children.
Dean was born Oct. 12, 1930. His father, Deloss Parr, was a farmer on the Little Beaver Farm still operated by the Parrs. His mother was born into the Hays family which homesteaded in the area in 1884.
Dean’s grandfather delivered mail on horseback starting in 1912. His father and uncle, Dick Parr, drove the Rangely mail route starting in 1942. Dean eventually took over and today his son Rich drives the route the family has maintained for 70 years.
Deloss worked in the oil fields on Thornburg where Dean and his sister attended school in the rural schoolhouse. His mother taught school in several different schools as well as at Thornburg. There were 18 kids in the Thornburg school before the Parrs moved to town. Dean’s sister Aileen was graduated from the eighth grade when the family decided to come to town. At the time, kids from all the surrounding schools were recognized for their completion of eighth grade and came to town to attend high school.
Dean’s mother taught one year in Meeker before falling ill with cancer.
Dean was graduated from high school in 1948. He recalls his summer job that year, working with Bailey Cotton as a wrangler for a Colorado trail ride across the Flat Tops. There were several wranglers hired on to take care of more than 100 head of horses that carried more than 50 “dudes” on a three-month ride. As wranglers, Dean and Bailey had to pack the tents, food and gear for nearly 80 men on the tour.
Some of the horses they used were from Cleve Gentry, a local stock contractor for the rodeos. The horses that were not found to be quality bucking horses were turned into trail and pack horses for the trip. The adventure ended on the highway near Rifle where they had to trail the horses to their final destination.
After returning from his trip, Dean went to work on the family farm and met his wife Artie in 1950. The two were married in the spring of 1951.
Dean drove a school bus for 35 years, has been a member of the Lions Club for 32 years, served on the WREA board nearly 30 years, the national board for five years, the local Jaycee’s group, the sanitation board, and the Young Farmers group which was headed up by Coach Starbuck for young men to spend time camping, fishing and enjoying the outdoors. He has been a member of the Old Timers Association, and with his well-recognized voice, announced the Fourth of July parade for more than 10 years.
The children who rode Dean’s bus remember his songs, jokes and friendly spirit. Letters written to him by students mention candy on holidays and ice cream on the last day of school. He loved being around the kids and the feeling was mutual.
Artie came to Meeker to teach in 1950. She had taught in Fruitville for two years before moving. In her first year in the school near Clifton she had 45 kids in her class, 30 fifth graders and 15 sixth graders. She began teaching the fourth grade in Meeker and continued for 37 years. After retiring she worked as a substitute teacher for four years on long-term assignments when teachers were on maternity leave. She taught for a total of 43 years and still remembers students by name and knows their families as they have grown up in front of her.
“I loved seeing kids when they grasp something for the first time. It is something very, very special. It is something you can’t explain,” she said.
She was a teacher that went to work every day—as all great teachers do, wanting to make a difference—and she shared her passion with many teachers over the years. Artie received a letter from former school board president Port Franklin complimenting her for her success and saying he knew “she was something good” when she first walked in the door. Another letter from her principal detailed her professionalism and ability to work with students and staff to make a greater education a reality. She has letters from students and a quilt from her final class she taught expressing their gratitude and appreciation for all she did. A scrapbook was given to her filled with letters from co-workers, former students and friends depicting the tremendous impact she had on so many lives. On the front page was a list of the teachers during her first year and their respective salaries. Artie’s was $2,400 in 1950. She taught in Meeker until 1987 and was named the Parade Marshal in 1990 for her service.
Dean and Artie have four children: Kathy and her husband Brad (Dodds) currently of Denver, Rich and Carol Parr of Meeker, Steve and Sharon Parr of Meeker, and Michael and Sabrina Parr of Denver. They have five grandkids and four great-grandkids. Her daughter Kathy also went into the teaching profession and retired last year after 28 years. Steve works at the plant center and Dean remembers him accompanying himself and his father on the farm learning the trade. Rich currently works on the farm and drives the mail route, and Michael sells insurance in Denver. Their kids share the friendly spirit of their parents and are very family-oriented.
Dean and Artie love Meeker because of the people.
“They care about you and you care about them like family,” Artie said.
They still attend sporting events and the annual WREA golf tournament. Dean and Artie have been married nearly 61 years now. Their beautiful wedding picture features their ring bearer and flower girl, George Nay and Connie Theos, posing on either side of Dean and Artie.
The two have been very involved in Meeker through the years and certainly given a great deal to the young people of our community. There are many memories of bus trips with one or both involved. It is an incredible feat to have persevered more than 40 years in education and 35 years driving a bus. Their work has clearly made a difference in our small community. Franklin Roosevelt once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth but we can build our youth for the future.” This is something the Parrs have helped accomplish.